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Moroccan-Style Lamb Stew

Stews, like this exotically spiced version, are easy when you have the right ingredients and tools on hand. Brown the lamb in a pot large enough that the meat isn’t crowded, then add the aromatics and let it simmer until fork-tender. Cook some pearl couscous according to the package instructions and serve it alongside.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 lb. (1 kg) lamb stew meat
  • Kosher salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp. 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/2 lemon, zest removed with a vegetable peeler and chopped
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. water (optional)
  • 12 green olives 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the broth. Crumble in the saffron. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Season the lamb chunks generously with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the lamb and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a platter.

Add the onion to the pot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, paprika, cumin and garlic and stir for 1 minute. Return the lamb to the pot and add the saffron broth, bay leaf, lemon zest and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Season with pepper. Cook over the lowest possible heat—so the liquid barely simmers—until the lamb is tender, at least 1 1/2 hours. Check occasionally; if the liquid level falls too low, add 1 or 2 Tbs. water.

Transfer the lamb to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Discard the bay leaf from the braising sauce and if desired, tip the pot and spoon off some of the fat. Add the olives and simmer briskly over medium-high heat until the sauce is reduced and concentrated, about 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the stew into individual bowls. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cook Good Food (Weldon Owen, 2014).